Improper acetabular component orientation in THA has been associated with increased dislocation rates, component impingement, bearing surface wear, and a greater likelihood of revision. Therefore, any reasonable steps to improve acetabular component orientation should be considered and explored.
We therefore sought to compare THA with a robotic-assisted posterior approach with manual alignment techniques through a posterior approach, using a matched-pair controlled study design, to assess whether the use of the robot made it more likely for the acetabular cup to be positioned in the safe zones described by Lewinnek et al. and Callanan et al.
Between September 2008 and September 2012, 160 THAs were performed by the senior surgeon. Sixty-two patients (38.8%) underwent THA using a conventional posterior approach, 69 (43.1%) underwent robotic-assisted THA using the posterior approach, and 29 (18.1%) underwent radiographic-guided anterior-approach THAs. From September 2008 to June 2011, all patients were offered anterior or posterior approaches regardless of BMI and anatomy. Since introduction of the robot in June 2011, all THAs were performed using the robotic technique through the posterior approach, unless a patient specifically requested otherwise. The radiographic cup positioning of the robotic-assisted THAs was compared with a matched-pair control group of conventional THAs performed by the same surgeon through the same posterior approach. The safe zone (inclination, 30°–50°; anteversion, 5°–25°) described by Lewinnek et al. and the modified safe zone (inclination, 30°–45°; anteversion, 5°–25°) of Callanan et al. were used for cup placement assessment. Matching criteria were gender, age ± 5 years, and (BMI) ± 7 units. After exclusions, a total of 50 THAs were included in each group. Strong interobserver and intraobserver correlations were found for all radiographic measurements (r > 0.82; p < 0.001).
One hundred percent (50/50) of the robotic-assisted THAs were within the safe zone described by Lewinnek et al. compared with 80% (40/50) of the conventional THAs (p = 0.001). Ninety-two percent (46/50) of robotic-assisted THAs were within the modified safe zone described by Callanan et al. compared with 62% (31/50) of conventional THAs p (p = 0.001). The odds ratios for an implanted cup out of the safe zones of Lewinnek et al. and Callanan et al. were zero and 0.142, respectively (95% CI, 0.044, 0.457).
Use of the robot allowed for improvement in placement of the cup in both safe zones, an important parameter that plays a significant role in long-term success of THA. However, whether the radiographic improvements we observed will translate into clinical benefits for patients—such as reductions in component impingement, acetabular wear, and prosthetic dislocations, or in terms of improved longevity—remains unproven.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study. See the Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.